Aspinwall House to Become Permanent Venue of Biennale: Dr. Thomas Isaac

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Kochi: In line with his budgetary allocation for a permanent venue for the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, Dr T.M. Thomas Isaac, Kerala Finance Minister,  said here the other day that the State Government had decided to make Aspinwall House the home of India’s only Biennale.

“As an initial step, the government has cancelled the lease on a portion of Aspinwall House. Negotiations are going on to acquire the rest of the property in a time-bound manner by paying a reasonable amount,” Dr. Isaac said, following a guided tour of KMB 2016’s primary venue.

“The Biennale will be maintained as a permanent art and culture asset for Kochi, which has become a fixture on the art map of the world. The city will join other big metropolises in housing an iconic international event. We can even utilise this space to conduct various art and cultural activities during non-Biennale years,” he added.

The Minister undertook a day-long tour of KMB 2016 venues in Fort Kochi and Mattancherry, taking in the works on display and interacting with the Sunday crowds at Pepper House, Anand Warehouse and TKM Warehouse.

“When I first funded the Biennale six years ago as the Finance Minister of the previous LDF Government, there was controversy about spending so much money on an art event rather than on art training schools. Today, there is near unanimity on the importance of the Biennale. It exposes Keralites to the best in contemporary art from around the world and it is good for Kerala’s artists as well. In its third edition, no opposing voices are being heard,” Dr. Isaac said.

Noting that the Biennale had established itself as an important landmark in the socio-cultural map of Kerala, the Minister said, “Giving the public the opportunity to enjoy, firsthand, the artworks of internationally-acclaimed artists and engage with them facilitates the creation of a cultural gathering of thinkers, writers, sculptors and artists. Art schools will benefit from this event, which strives to have greater linkages with art education in Kerala.”

“The government has allotted around Rs. 60 crore for the promotional and marketing purpose of tourism in Kerala. Allotting Rs. two crore for the Biennale in its off-year is likewise an investment to the upkeep of an established and important international event,” he added.

Dr. Isaac, who also holds the Coir portfolio, expressed appreciation for KMB 2016 participating artist Praneet Soi’s work using the traditional fabric in his Cut-Out Archive – Sculptures in Coir. He tried his hand at Turkish artist Ahmet Öğüt’s installation Workers Taking Over The Factory – Version 2 and found Hungarian artist István Csákány’s Ghost Keeping “aesthetically pleasing”.

The Minister also praised the photography series Vanishing Life-Worlds on the ancient port town of Ponnani by artist K R Sunil.

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